Turkey kept pressure on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatists in northern Iraq on Friday, with a rebel spokesman saying Turkish jets were carrying out air strikes for a third straight day.
“The attacks started again this morning (Friday) against Qandil only,” Dozdar Hammo said, referring to an area of north Iraq close to the border with Turkey.
He added that bombings by the Turkish air force lasted for around three hours on Thursday night against Qandil and other bases close to the Iraq-Turkey border.
The Turkish military said its jets had bombed 28 targets on a second day of attacks on bases in northern Iraq used by PKK.
Following bombing raids on 60 targets
the air force launched an “effective” operation Thursday against 28 targets in the Qandil, Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Zap regions of northern Iraq, the military said in a statement on its website.
In coordination with the air strikes, 96 more targets in the region were kept under intense artillery fire, the statement said.
“The targets were positively identified as belonging to the PKK, and the necessary sensitivity is paid to protect civilians,” it said.
“The actions under the struggle against terror will go on with determination inside and outside the country based on the requirements of military needs,” it added.
The military launched a first wave of bomb attacks on Wednesday against rebel targets in Iraq in response to a deadly attack by the rebel group against a military unit in Cukurca town in southeast Turkey, killing nine security officials.
It is the first time in more than a year that the Turkish military has carried out air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq.
The second bombing raid by Turkey also followed a new rebel attack earlier on Thursday in the southern province of Siirt, killing two soldiers, media reports said.
The escalation in violence came as the National Security Council (MGK), which brings together top civilian and military officials, met for five hours on Thursday before pronouncing support for a tougher stance against the PKK.
The council, led by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, spoke of the need for "better coordination" of military and police resources in suppressing the Kurdish rebels.
The council’s statement also called on Turkey’s neighbors “to accept their responsibilities” to eradicate the PKK from their territory, without naming any countries.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in the Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.